Tuesday, 2 September 2014


After school activities are much more fun as the kids get older.  Ishie and I baked and Alastair and Iain spent time in the garage measuring and sawing wood.


Today we baked, from scratch, a Swiss Roll.  After we finished she was keen to look up in my recipe books something else that we might tackle. How about Christmas cookies with sprinkles?  Here she is making out my shopping list.

Meanwhile here is Alastair up to his usual nonsense!


In the park after school I took this video with my iPhone.  It took me several attempts.  It was only when Ishie took it out of my hands to show me that the round red signal means video is waiting and square red signal means it is recording.  Ah-h-h-h ... I had it the wrong way around.

In case it does not work, the video is of Alastair shimmying up the swing bars using his 2 hands - no feet.... as in the photo below:

Monday, 1 September 2014


Alastair likes to talk 'cars' these days.  He has very expensive tastes too.  He knows all the brands and wants to know all the details about them. But he came out with one that John had not heard of .....

......  he wants "an Aston Pine Marten" when he grows up...!!!!

I wonder if he learned about these animals when we were in Tomintoul, Speyside in May when Dawn, Alastair and Indy were visiting?  Up the back of where we were staying was a sandy bank which had a lot of burrows for birds - sand martins,  I think they were - which were numerous and flew all around the place.

One lunchtime Indy and I made a little picnic and hiked (all 100 yards) to this sandy place, a bit like a sandy gravel pit, to have our picnic. While munching on our apple slices my eye caught a sudden movement and, using my iPhone camera, I took these photos below.  

It was a pine martin! ... about the size of a large, elongated cat. A first sighting for me. 

I got such a laugh from John's little story I decided I might just 'design' one for Alastair. Come to think of it, I am seeing him tomorrow so I will get him to do the same... watch this space!

APM Prototype Number 1

Sunday, 31 August 2014


Ishie (7), Alastair (6) and Harriet (14 months) were over.  Here is a recent photo.

At dinner later and we all had things to celebrate:

Mairi - is now at the half way mark in her pregnancy.  Due date is mid-January 2015.
John -  is finding that getting staff at surgery is turning out better than expected
Iain - has built a new handrail at the back door. It has been unanimously agreed by all ages to that he is "A Good Builder".
Barbara - is delighted to see how they are growning and have such rosy cheeks
Ishie - has earned her Cook's Badge in Grandma's kitchen because she made an excellent job of frying bacon for bacon rolls.  That means she stood and watched her work carefully (despite distractions) and was very tidy and organised in her work.  Watch this space!
Alastair -  has got himself a dandy second-hand BMX bike at the church jumble sale.  He spent a good 20 minutes carefully washing it with the hose and taking the scrubbing brush over every spoke and wheel tread.
Harriet - has now got her first molar tooth.

And while we are on the subject of things to celebrate: 

Indy - had his examination under anaesthetic to look to see if there is any sign of further cancer cells in his eye ... and nothing is evident.  [See previous post to this one.] We see him, and talk to him, every week on Skype.  He too has grown and has now started at a new Nursery.

Everyone - is celebrating!

Friday, 29 August 2014


I came across an "old friend" today ... in the form of a Singer sewing machine!  I worked out that it has been 60 years since I first used this machine!  I learned to sew using this machine and spent hours making  .... doll's clothes!  I guess I was about 10years old (1955).

I see from looking it up (on an American site) that it was called  Featherweight and dates from 1951.  I am sure it had another name ... was it Baby Singer?

These machines were made at the Singer factory  (Clydebank) not far from where we live. I think there are many homes that have or had one.  Certainly they are commonly seen in the Barras (flea market) and charity shops.  In fact one shop is Glasgow has their window display full of these piled in tiers as decoration.

But not this one!  I just loved this little machine and used to walk to my friend's house carrying it as I could not lug it on a bicycle!  In fact, I took it off to university with me but I suppose I left it back at home in the late 60's when I departed to "do Europe".

All through my teenage years I sewed on this funny little machine.  I recall making an outfit for a Sadie Hawkins Day Dance one February.  I took a dress pattern (basic 1920s 'shift')  and made the whole thing out of sacking.  We called it 'gunny sacks' ... never heard that word used in the UK!  I guess they would say hemp sacking.  I also remember how I loved Dan River cotton and when we went to the States on holiday that is what I used to buy with my baby-sitting money... that plus sheet music!

I am still doing both of those things: I love to pick up bits of beautiful fabric in a remnant box say in a Designer's Guild expensive fabric department.  And of course, I never go into a charity shop but I cast my eye around for sheet music!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Dawn and Indy and Alastair moved to Oregon in July.  However Indy had a check-up appointment due back in Vancouver so Dawn returned there with him this week.  Through the medium of email and Facebook we are kept very much up-to-date of progress and the outcome ... and the news is very good!  Indy's examination under anaesthetic shows that there appear to be no further cancer cells in his right eye.

So here he is with his Dog-Guitar in the Oncology Department ... a real Rock Start ... or as Alastair says ... a Dog Star!!

Friday, 15 August 2014


Iain and I spent a day at the 2014 World Piping Championships.  We were very kindly given VIP tickets which meant we could watch under cover in a rather nice tent.  We met and chatted with some pleasant folk all of whom have an input to the championships in one way or another.

 Flowers in the table of the hospitality tent.  Lovely food and excellent coffee enjoyed by all.

 Iain is admiring the craftsmanship of the makers of bag pipes, in this example, drone pipes. 

This display of chanters has one new, unusual one: in the centre the chanter has been made such that it is not straight up and down, i.e. it is angled.... a new innovation, it would appear.

 St Laurence O'Toole, Eire

  Bagad Cap Caval Pipe Band,  Pipe Major Hervé le Floc'h, France

 Drum sticks for larger drums.

 Roll out the barrel ....

Practice area

 Tuning up

 Tuning up - lots of technological kit involved

Monday, 11 August 2014


We had a lovely surprise this morning!  At precisely 9:50 am a Parcel Force delivery arrived with a large box from Amazon.  It contained books and videos from Alastair!

What was amazing is that Alastair and I only talked about these books etc on Saturday night at 6 pm our time - less than 48 hours ago! 

I suggested that Iain might like a recently published book Last Man Off by Matt Lewis about a Scottish fellow who was aboard a fishing vessel that sank in the South Georgia Sea.  It was on BBC Book of the Week last month.  (Poor Iain, who reads avidly, is very often given whisky as a present; he really doesn't drink the stuff any more!)

The BBC Radio 4 site describes it "In the spring of 1998, Matt Lewis was just 23 and not long out of college when he accepted a job as a scientific observer on the deep-sea fishing vessel Sudur Havid. It was his first time as an observer and, with the fishing season already started, he was rushed out to Cape Town to join the crew. The boat then sailed off to the Southern Ocean, off South Georgia, to fish in some of the most hostile conditions on the planet.

Last Man Off is Matt Lewis's story of that journey and the fateful consequences. It is a story that has waited over 15 years to be told."

And there were pressies for me in the box ... like Christmas!  Maggie and Brian had taken me to see the film The Grand Budapest Hotel. I mentioned to Alastair that I was captivated by the first piece of music in the film. Alastair included in the box a CD of the movie soundtrack!

The opening piece of music that I liked turns out to be: "the Appenzell yodel 's'Rothe-Zäuerli' by Ruedi and Werner Roth, is from the Swiss folk group's Öse Schuppel's album Appenzeller Zäuerli." [Wikipedia]

(The film is a British-German co-production financed by German financial companies and film funding organizations, and was filmed entirely on location in Germany.)

This short video is of that music (and only that piece):